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Bust.  That portrait of a person including the neck and some part of the shoulder or chest; the head down to the shoulder bone. Busts differ from heads, but both are portraits. Any covering on the bust, as clothing or uniform, is an attempt to indicate the status of the person portrayed. Busts are popular in bas-relief but present problems to the artist different from those of sculpture in-the-round, namely the compression of relief. This is solved somewhat by the side view of person portrayed on coins and medals, indicating their popularity in the field. Where and how the bust terminates is often mentioned in numismatic cataloging; truncation is used for this terminus. It can be symbolic, a smooth truncation implies the subject is still alive (or the portrait was made from life). A jagged or cloud-like truncation implies the subject is dead (clouds indicating heaven). The very first medal, by Pisanello, bore a bust of John Palaeologus.  See head, human figure, portraits and portraiture.

                     Types of Busts                    


  Clothed Bust.   In clothing of any kind.              


  Draped Bust.   Any covering with cloth in folds.     


  Herm Bust.     A bust atop a pedestal, plinth or shaft. 


  Mailed Bust.    In armor, particularly covering the chest.                                


  Military Bust.  In uniform of any kind.               


  Nude Bust.      Without clothing or covering of any kind.                                 

excerpted with permission from

An Encyclopedia of Coin and Medal Technology

For Artists, Makers, Collectors and Curators


Roger W. Burdette, Editor

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